Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mancao, The Fixation with Affidavits, and the Lack of Physical Evidence

An affidavit is a written statement sworn to, before one who is authorized to administer an oath. Such authorized person may be a judge, a prosecutor (fiscal) or a notary public. The statement is usually a recollection of what transpired, as observed by the affiant (the person who makes the statement); or it is a statement of what the affiant did. It is, therefore, what is also termed as testimonial evidence (evidence in the form of statements of a witness). The only difference between an affidavit and oral testimony in court, is the fact that testimony in court can stand alone, while an affidavit needs to be affirmed in court.

Statements being a recollection of what transpired, or what was done, are subject to the ravages of time on memory, or the more pressing concerns of daily life. Some events are indelibly etched in our memory - a first kiss, the birth of a child, or the pain of losing a loved one; others are less permanent – a political science lecture, some passerby on the street, or what one wore nine days ago.

It is for that reason that testimonial evidence carries less weight compared to physical, or documentary evidence. By physical evidence, we mean fingerprints, DNA, bloodstains, and the like. Documentary evidence refers to contracts, birth certificates, bid documents, and other written material kept in the ordinary course of business.

Considering the diminished weight of testimonial evidence, the fixation of Philippine authorities on affidavits and other testimonial evidence is a puzzlement (apologies to author of “The King and I”).

The fixation on testimonial evidence is revealed in the Dacer-Corbito case, with regard to testimonies of Alex Dilloy et al, and the striptease affidavit of the current centerfold, Cezar Ochoco Mancao.

Forgotten in the mire of he said/they said, is the physical evidence, or the lack of it. The physical evidence consists of a few bones, which have tested negative for human DNA. Did Dacer have bulalo for dinner? Maybe, but where are his remains?

The line being peddled is that the flesh and bones have been burned beyond recognition, like ashes from a crematorium. This, the prosecution gathers, from the testimony of the Alex Dilloy y Buladas (note Buladas) that after strangulation, the bodies were placed on top of a file (sic – pile) of wood and some old tires and lit with gasoline (Direct Examination, Alex Dilloy, page 43 and 44, June 14, 2007).

The people of India, who have cremated their dead with firewood for centuries, are the experts on this matter. Their experts state that to burn an adult body completely, in open air, 400 to 600 kilos of firewood, logs, preferably, would be needed ( For the bodies of both Dacer and Corbito, then, one would need 800 to 1200 kilos. That is one two to tons of firewood (1,760 to 2,640 pounds); that is about as heavy as a Volkswagen beetle.

We need not even go very far. Anybody who has roasted a lechon on a spit will tell you that it takes a lot of wood to properly cook a lechon, so that there won’t be blood on the bones; let alone, char the pig beyond recognition. And if the fire were intense enough to grind the skull to ashes, the same heat should have melted the dental implants found by Dr. Fortun. Miraculously, however, the metal dental plates survived, which is the only means by which the victims were identified. Miraculously, too, one metal dental plate from each “victim”, survived the skull grinding heat (Letter of Raquel Fortun to Dir. Wycoco, April 11, 2001). The search by Dr. Fortun was conducted on April 7, 2001, six months after the bodies were burned on November 24, 2000.

That the firewood gathered in only a few minutes is not sufficient to char a body beyond recognition is proven in the case of People v. Alexio Lupango G.R. No. L-32633 November 12, 1981, “The evidence of the prosecution discloses that the victim, Teresa Vda, de lglesia, was burned in a fire that razed her house..” “The charred body of the victim Mrs. Teresa Vda. de Iglesia was recovered from the burned house and autopsied..”; and the remains were intact enough for the medico-legal to determine that the cause of death was fracture of the skull, prior to burning. In other words, despite the entire house having burned down, the body was not charred beyond recognition, nor were the skull and bones pulverized.

But the clincher for Senator Lacson and his men, ironically, is a case that then Senior Supt. Lacson lost in the Supreme Court.

In the case of Diosdado Jose Allado and Roberto L. Mendoza v. Hon. Roberto C. Diokno, G.R. No. 113630 May 5, 1994, Allado and Mendoza were accused of the heinous crime of kidnapping with murder, on the strength of an extrajudicial confession executed by Escolastico Umbal. Umbal claimed that the victim, Van Twest, was shot in the chest with a baby armalite, stabbed several times, and his cadaver burned into fine ashes using gasoline and rubber tires.

In its decision, the Supreme Court observed: “The Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (headed by Lacson) relies heavily on the sworn statement of Security Guard Umbal who supposedly confessed his participation in the alleged kidnapping and murder of Van Twest. For one, there is serious doubt on Van Twest's reported death since the corpus delicti has not been established, nor have his remains been recovered. Umbal claims that Van Twest was completely burned into ashes with the use of gasoline and rubber tires from around ten o'clock in the evening to six o'clock the next morning. This is highly improbable, if not ridiculous. A human body cannot be pulverized into ashes by simply burning it with the use of gasoline and rubber tires in an open field. Even crematoria use entirely closed incinerators where the corpse is subjected to intense heat. Thereafter, the remains undergo a process where the bones are completely ground to dust.”

The Supreme Court went further and held that: “To allege then that the body of Van Twest was completely burned to ashes in an open field with the use merely of tires and gasoline is a tale too tall to gulp.”

It is equally a tale too tall to gulp, that with the aid of some stray firewood, old tires, and coconut leaves, the skull and bones of Dacer and Corbito were pulverized. There being no evidence of their remains, or evidence that their bodies were completely destroyed, one cannot maintain a prosecution for murder.

In the case of Allado, the Supreme Court held that the absence of Van Twest's body renders the case without probable cause. It, therefore, issued a writ of prohibition prohibiting the RTC from further proceedings in the case.

Your move, Atty. Alex Avisado. Checkmate Raul.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Did Dumlao Recant?

Glane (not Glenn) Dumlao issued three affidavits in connection with the Dacer-Corbito case. The first was on June 12, 2001, the second on May 20, 2003, and the third on March 2, 2007. Many have said that the first linked Senator Lacson to the murder, that the second recanted that allegation, and that the third reaffirmed the first, thereby putting Lacson back into the suspect category. A careful reading of the affidavits, however, reveals that all three support each other, and the only conclusion that can be derived from them is that Lacson was not implicated by Dumlao.

The first affidavit reveals the following salient facts:

1. Michael Ray Aquino gave a “tasking” to Dumlao, to sniff around, ascertain the activities of Dacer, and if ever, steal documents or destroy them. These are found in the following statements:

a. "to conduct discreet background investigation…"(bottom paragraph page 1, handwritten affidavit)

b. "to surreptitiously enter the rooms and take whatever documents I can and also to monitor personalities/visitors of our subject" (top paragraph, page 2 handwritten affidavit).

2. The sniffing around is supported by the statements in the third affidavit, where Dumlao states: “My participation to conduct tactical interrogation at that time falls on the purview of regularity in the performance of my duty having been instructed by a superior officer P/COL AQUINO for a person involved in unseating a duly elected president.”

3. Dumlao was unsuccessful, so the “tasking” was shelved for a while, as Dumlao went to training (“schooling”) and later did other tasks (first two paragraphs, page 3 handwritten affidavit);

4. The tasking regarding sniffing around for info on activities by Dacer was not made known to Lacson until after the fact. This is seen in the following exchange:

Mancao: Clear na ba ito sa boss natin, kay 71?
Aquino: Sila na daw bahala sa kanya.

5. Somebody was to notify Lacson, after the fact. Lacson did not know about the “Special Ops” (first paragraph, page 4 handwritten affidavit);

6. Neither did Mancao know, until after the fact, as revealed by the following exchange:

Mancao: Noy, Ano bang Special Operations na ito?
Aquino: Kay kuwan yan, Mr. Dacer (first paragraph, page 4 handwritten affidavit).

7. Since there was no way to link Lacson based on the first affidavit of Dumlao, then it yields the conclusion that the statements of Dumlao in the “recantation affidavit” are true, that:

a. Dumlao was pressured to execute an addendum (paragraph 15, affidavit, May 20, 2003) linking Lacson, Mancao and Aquino to illegal activities (paragraph 3), which illegal activities were to include drug-trafficking, kidnapping, robbery/hold-up (paragraph 5);

b. Dumlao was moved to say: “P/DIR GUALBERTO was the dumbest police officer I have ever encountered. He wanted me to own up every killing that has been publicized and to point at SEN LACSON as the mastermind. He threatened to link me to all these cases if I do not cooperate.

c. Dumlao resisted the pressure;

d. The carrot and stick approach was applied on Dumlao - he was offered rewards, he was also threatened [drinking session with Berroy and Gen Alqueza (paragraph 13), an offer of a higher position (paragraph 18), threats from the dumbest police officer (Gualberto) and from Victor Corpus, facing a panel of bigwigs, comprised of Ronaldo Puno, Reynaldo Wycoco, Hernando Perez, Kermogenes Ebdane, Victor Corpus, Roberto Lastimoso, and Atty. Davila;

Clearly, therefore, the “recantation affidavit” was issued, not to controvert the first affidavit, but to put on record the pressures exerted on Dumlao, and to explain why “I flee my own country” (first paragraph, page 2, handwritten affidavit submitted to NJ Federal District Court).

The third affidavit neither affirms nor denies the statements of the first affidavit. It merely states that Dumlao’s best recollection of the events are contained in his first affidavit of June 12, 2001. If at all, it is a mere implied affirmation of the first affidavit.

Mancao, in his extradition case, initially intended to fight extradition, and filed a motion for habeas corpus ad testificandum, to compel the State of New York to produce the person of Dumlao in Florida, to testify to the fact that Mancao had no knowledge about the “Special Ops” regarding Dacer. The motion of Mancao, filed on January 9, 2009, cited the first affidavit of Dumlao. It was granted on the same day.

The hearing on the request for extradition was to be held on March 3, 209. Suddenly, Mancao seemed to have had a change of heart, and on February 23, 2009, filed a motion to release witness Dumlao from the previously issued writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum. On March 3, 2009, Mancao executed an affidavit of consent to extradition, which was signed by his Public Defender, to show that Mancao was assisted by counsel. The affidavit of consent was sworn to, before the Magistrate Judge herself.

Now comes an affidavit, which on its face, says that Mancao signed on February 13, 2009, and sworn to, before the Honorary Consul in Florida, Angelo S. Macatangay, M.D. The jurat states that Mancao “personally appeared” before Macatangay. The office of the Honorary Consul is at 1900 W Commercial Blvd. Suite 29 Fort Lauderdale, 33309.

Did Mancao appear there to swear to the affidavit? How? Mancao has been detained since November 20, 2008. He is not out on bail, because the US Attorney argued that he would be a flight risk.

The affidavit also states that Mancao was assisted by his Public Defender, Lopez. But there is no signature of Lopez on the affidavit, as appears on the affidavit sworn to before the Magistrate Judge.

Did Macatangay visit Mancao in prison on February 14, 2009, a Saturday? Did Lopez visit with Macatangay? That should be easy to verify by referring to the visitor’s logbook in the prison where Mancao is detained. On its face, it looks like Dr. Macatangay doctored the affidavit.

The foregoing shows that the Mancao affidavit is a dud. The Dumlao affidavits, read together, provide the smoking gun – smoking gun about the efforts to railroad a case.

Oh and by the way, there is the alternative view by writer Herman Laurel Tiu – that the remains recovered were not those of Dacer. True, dental tests were done, but there is an even better test, to determine the truth. DNA can be extracted from teeth. In fact, a tooth was used to derive the DNA of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in connection with a paternity case (

So the DNA of those teeth can be matched with the DNA of Karina Dacer.